Julius Thomas' speedy transition

ENGLEWOOD, Co. -- Two summers ago, Julius Thomas was practicing his jump shot at Portland State.

Thursday night, he was at Cowboys’ Stadium, facing Dallas’ first-team defense.

“There was DeMarcus Ware, it was crazy,” Denver’s rookie tight end said Saturday of his first NFL game experience. “I had to calm myself down … I realized it was the highest level. If I could play at that level, I can make it.”

Thomas has been one of the stories of Denver’s camp. He was a fourth-round pick despite playing just year of college football and one year of high school football. Denver dedicated the valuable pick on the raw player because of his immense athletic ability and his ability to improve quickly. So far, the pick doesn’t appear to be a wasted one.

Thomas has shined at practices, becoming a red-zone favorite of quarterback Kyle Orton. Thomas is a getting a lot of action with the first team, which is an indication the transition hasn’t been difficult for him.

“I’m just here to learning,” Thomas said. “That's what it's all about for me. I just want to learn every day.”

If Thomas continues to progress, he will have a chance to play often in the regular season. He said his time with the first-team in camp has kept him on his toes.

“I you are practicing with the (third team) and you make a mistake, well, OK, you make a mistake,” Thomas said. “But if you make a mistake with the first team team, you have Kyle Orton or Brandon Lloyd on you. They are there to practice. They don’t have time for a rookie to make a mistake … the pressure is there to improve quickly.”